Wednesday, November 14, 2001

State expands Big Bone park


Ky. buys former trailer site

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BIG BONE — The site of a former southern Boone County trailer park shut down this year because of health hazards will be converted into park space by the state of Kentucky.

        The Kentucky Department of Parks has purchased the 23-acre Hillside Trailer Park site for $342,000 from its owner and operator, James Hicks of Morningview.

[photo] The former site of the Hillside Trailer Park will now be part of Big Bone Lick State Park in Boone County.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        The state will use the land to expand Big Bone Lick State Park, which is off Ky. 338, about 20 miles south of Covington, said Parks Department spokesman Jim Carroll.

        “We're going to use the land to expand our green space near the park's entrance,” Mr. Carroll said Tuesday from Frankfort. “It's mainly for aesthetics. This was an opportunity to buy some land for the park, and we wanted to take it.”

        Last summer Boone Circuit Judge Jay Bamberger ordered the park closed because of unsafe drinking water and problems with the sanitation and sewer systems. About 100 people were forced to move, with the final residents moving out in February.

        Mr. Hicks said earlier this year he wanted $4 million for the property. He could not be reached Tuesday, and Mr. Carroll would not say how much Mr. Hicks asked for the property in negotiations with the state.

        State officials have also not said how much the property was appraised for.

        The Northern Kentucky Independent Health District filed a complaint last year because of unsafe drinking water and problems with the trailer park's sanitation system, a move that prompted the court action.

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        The property is now vacant of trailers, but there are two vacant, dilapidated buildings — a former grocery store and auto repair business — on the land.

        Old tires, buckets, broken windows and other debris are strewn across a fenced-in area behind the buildings. Trash and high weeds are spread throughout the hilly area of the property where the trailers were located.

        Mr. Carroll said the state will be moving in shortly to clean and clear the property.

        “We support the state's efforts to expand the park, which we believe is one of the real treasures of Northern Kentucky,” said Boone County Deputy County Administrator John Stanton.

        In an unrelated development, ground will be broken in the spring on the first phase of a $5.7 million museum, visitor center and office for the park.

        The state wants to build the 18,700-square-foot museum to showcase some of the fossils excavated from the site in the last 240 years. Many of the fossils and bones from mammals that lived in Boone County 12,000 to 20,000 years ago have been taken from the site over the years.

        “There are exhibits at the park that can moved into the museum, but building a museum will help in getting back some of the tons of bones taken from Big Bone,” Mr. Stanton said.

        Ground will be broken on the $700,000 first phase in the spring. It will cover 3,600 square feet and house a visitor center and office for the park. Exhibits will also be displayed in the first phase of the project.

        But to complete the bulk of the project — 15,100 square feet of museum exhibit space — the Kentucky General Assembly would have to approve $5 million, said Rep. Paul Marcotte, R-Union.

        “In a normal year this is a project that would be funded,” Mr. Marcotte said. “But money is tight. We just don't know if it will be available this year.”
       



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- State expands Big Bone park